Kicking the (Big Blue) Can Down the Road



Isn’t she a beauty?

95 gallons of recycling capacity on wheels. Who wouldn’t love having this baby delivered to your front door, ready for use? No more stinky bin sitting around in my mud-room collecting cans and paper. Instead, she’s neat, she’s tidy and, best of all, she lives out doors. Like the cat.

While I was happily making room for Big Blue in our lives, my neighbors weren’t quite as enamored.

I live at the top of a gravel road so for me it’s a quick (wheeled) trip down the driveway and out to the curb. My neighbors however had to bring their bins to the top of the longish drive, which wasn’t such a big deal when they could stick their bin in the car, truck bed, trunk…. Big Blue? She’s not going to fit. And the collection trucks don’t go down the gravel drive.

One of my neighbors caught me on my way out the door to work and asked if I would mind if she just left her can up against my shed. Where it would be easier for her to get to the curb. I had visions of everyone down the road asking for the same and suddenly, the image of a Big Blue family reunion without end practically undid me. If I said yes to her…..where would it end? Yet I’m sympathetic. It is a long way to go, and for some people it won’t be an easy task. We live in society, we don’t want to be the grouchy automatic nay-sayers, and we want people to like us.

In my perfect world, the exchange would have proceeded with me having just the right graceful “no” on hand, she’d have walked away completely understanding my point of view, and we’d be all set.

Instead, we had one of those cringe-inducing conversations where I stammered and she backed away, and I couldn’t quite say no, and she’s a wonderful person who probably realized how unexcited I was about the idea and we left it with one of those awkward “I’ll get back to you” things….and I hurried off to work.

So what now?  After I cancelled the “replay” tape, I got to thinking. It wasn’t too late to have the graceful no. And it also wasn’t too late to address the situation my neighbors were facing. I can call the recycling folks and pass along the concern my neighbors have. Perhaps there’s a way they can help the folks who are having a hard time dealing with the new cans? Maybe they’ve already anticipated this and have smaller trucks handy since they’ll need new equipment to collect these new bins? And I can let her know what my concerns are with saying yes (where does it stop?) and let her know that I’ve heard her concerns and passed it along to the right place.

And then? Hopefully we’ll all recycle to our heart’s content.

Have you wished for a “do-over”? How did you handle it?